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How To Do The Kettlebell Clean And Squat

Kettlebell clean starting position
(Image credit: Getty Images / Kobus Louw)

Both the kettlebell clean and the squat are excellent compound moves, and combining the two creates a monster of a full-body exercise that works a bevy of muscles while also getting your heart pumping. Alternate reps with the kettlebell clean and press and you have the beginnings of a fiery kettlebell flow.

The kettlebell clean works your hamstrings, glutes, back, core, arms and shoulders. Pretty much everything, in fact. And then you’re going to do a squat as well! The squat section primarily works your lower-body muscles, particularly the quads and glutes, but also helps to build core strength.

Combining these kettlebell exercises in one explosive movement will quickly raise your heart rate, which makes the kettlebell clean and squat a great addition to HIIT workouts. However, you have to make sure your technique is flawless to get the most benefits and reduce the risk of injury, so only go hell for leather once you’re accustomed to the move. 

It’s also worth starting with a light weight, because while learning the movement you can thwack the back of your wrists with the kettlebell when moving it into the rack position, and that’s not a lot of fun if you go straight for a 25kg bell. While we think of it – remove your fitness tracker now.

How To Do The Kettlebell Clean And Squat

Kettlebell clean

Step 1, clean the kettlebell to the rack position (Image credit: Getty Images / EmirMemedovski)

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with the kettlebell on the floor in front of you. Hinge at your hips and bend your knees slightly to reach down and grasp the weight with one hand with your palm facing you. 

Drive your hips forwards explosively to stand up, generating enough momentum to lift the kettlebell. As the kettlebell passes your bellybutton, bring your elbow down and take your hand underneath the weight so that it nestles softly on the back of your wrist in the rack position by your shoulder. 

Kettlebell squat

Step 2, squat (Image credit: Getty Images / Westend61)

Keeping the weight racked, lower into a squat, pushing your hips back and bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Then push through your heels to return to standing. Return the kettlebell to the floor by slowly reversing the clean movement, keeping the weight under control at all times.

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.